Skiing and Kvikk Lunsj: How Norwegians celebrate Easter (in normal times)

Skiing from cabin to cabin is a great easter tradition in Norway.
Photo: Zen Whisk/ Flickr
Yellow daffodils, longer days and sunshine. With the arrival of Spring comes Easter, a holiday that has a distinctly more winter feel in Norway compared to the rest of Europe. But how exactly do Norwegians celebrate Easter in non-Covid times? 

The great mountain migration

School is out, the car is packed, the skis are tied on the roof and Norwegian families across the country are cramming into their cars to drive up to the snow-covered mountains. For most Easter is a spring celebration characterised by warm walks in bluebell-covered forests, big dinners and egg-hunts in the garden where the daffodils have just sprung, but in Norway the opposite is true.

If you are to celebrate Easter the Norwegian way, be prepared to layer up and head to the mountains albeit probably not this year because of the ongoing pandemic.

READ ALSO: These are Norway’s Covid-19 guidelines for the Easter holidays

In most years many Norwegians either rent or own a cabin, or they do the very Norwegian thing of hiking from cabin to cabin, spending the night in one place before hiking or skiing to the next. There are of course those who prefer a warmer Easter, and many who own a cabin on the coast tend to go there during this period to prepare their boats and get ready for summer, when we hope there will be fewer restrictions.

Kvikk Lunsj and oranges

The traditional “must-have” Easter food for most Norwegians is the simple culinary experience of a Kvikk-Lunsj chocolate (similar to KitKat) and oranges.

Okay, maybe not so much a culinary experience than simple nostalgia, but nevertheless a must-have for most Norwegians when they take their ski-break up in the mountains to enjoy the sun. To emphasise just how important the chocolate bar is to the Norwegian Easter, Norwegians eat between sixteen and seventeen million bars of Kvikk-Lunsj during the Easter Holidays, according to Byas.

Photo by Tone Høines on Unsplash

In Norway oranges tend to be a common holiday treat, just as they are also traditional for Christmas, but their significance to the Easter celebrations is perhaps the greatest. This is because oranges used to only be available to purchase in Norway during the winter, and they are at their ripest and sweetest around Easter.

Nordic Noir and murder mystery

Perhaps the strangest Norwegian Easter tradition is what’s known as “the Easter crime” or “påskekrimmen”. For many, a good Easter entails an equally good crime series, novel or TV show. It is especially atmospheric in the cabins, where you can discuss who might be the killer with your family or friends, or where you can cosy up with a crime novel in front of the fire, an almost religious tradition for some.

READ ALSO: The origins of Norwegian holiday crime fiction

Nordic crime, also known as “Nordic Noir”, has become increasingly popular over recent years, with Norwegian authors such as Jo Nesbø, Karin Fossum, Jørn Lier Horst and Agnes Ravatn hitting the international market. Not to mention the obsession with the Danish-Swedish series The Bridge, which is currently streaming on Netflix.

Easter egg hunt

The Easter bunny is a tale also told to Norwegian children, and the annual Easter egg hunt is a must. Though the Norwegian bunny must be of a different breed, as its eggs are distinctively bigger than those of its American or British cousin. In Norway it is tradition to fill one giant Easter egg with tasty pick-and-mix, Easter marzipan figures and chocolates. Just like in the US or the UK, the children have to look for their Easter egg, usually through fun clues or riddles left behind by the “Easter bunny”. The eggs are usually covered in fun Easter illustrations of chickens, bunnies and daffodils. Additionally, many paint and decorate real eggs by blowing out the inside of the egg and painting the shell for decoration. 

Ski and aprês ski

In most years, when there’s no pandemic, skiing — either cross-country, alpine or backcountry skiing — is a Norwegian Easter mainstay. Whether you like to exercise, climb mountains and ski down, or simply enjoy the fresh snow on the slopes, there is something for most. Cross-country in particular is tradition for Easter, where many go on day-long ski trips where they stop on their way to barbecue hot dogs, drink hot chocolate and make their own ski jumps. It is also customary to make a couch out of snow, and sit on that around a bonfire while working on a tan, though remember to bring something warm to sit on. Afterwards follows aprês ski with a cold beer, Aperol Spritz or glass of wine in a bar or at home. It’s usually around Easter that Norwegians have their first “utepils” – basically an outdoor beer.

Cabin ‘hygge’, Easter quizzes and board games

Norwegian Easter is built upon the idea of hygge defined as “a feeling of coziness, contentment, and well-being found through cherishing the little things”. Lit candles, a warm fireplace, chocolate, blankets to warm you in the snow or fun board games are standard. The traditional “Easter quiz” also plays into this, where you either do quizzes with the family at home, or send your guesses to national broadcaster NRK’s popular Easter quiz shown on TV. It is also customary to play board games during Easter, and the dice-game Yatzi is particularly popular. 

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